Hackers Target MasterCard, Visa

Dec. 9, 2010

A terse MasterCard statement hit newswires early Wednesday morning saying “heavy traffic” had affected its corporate Website and that the company was “working to restore normal speed of service.” It became apparent later in the day and was reported via multiple sources that the site had been taken down by a coordinated attack at the hands of hackers worldwide in response to the arrest order executed in Sweden against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Supporters of WikiLeaks, which has released thousands of classified government documents in recent weeks, operating under the label “Operation Payback” claimed responsibility in a message on Twitter. MasterCard released a statement later in the day claiming the site had been restored and that the payment card network’s core processing capability and cardholder account data had not been exposed. According to several reports, the Purchase, N.Y.-based company’s service for secure online transactions—MasterCard SecureCode—experienced a service disruption. It remains unclear whether the problems affecting SecureCode were caused by the hacker attack, however. A MasterCard spokeswoman confirmed the disruptions to the SecureCode service, but insisted that online transactions had not been affected. Instead, there were “isolated reports” of SecureCode service slowdowns reported, she said, adding that SecureCode service has been restored to normal. Visa’s Website apparently also has been targeted and was intermittently unavailable yesterday. MasterCard and Visa both have worked to stop acceptance of their card for donations to WikiLeaks which has leaked sensitive U.S. government information on the Internet.